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MIRI, Oct 7: Several Penan communities from Sarawak’s Central Baram area have set up another blockade, a second within a month, to stop a logging company from entering and extracting timber from their forest.
Headman Pada Jutang and elders from the Penan village of Long Pakan have struggled with the logging company’s encroachment into their land for over two months, according to a statement from Bruno Manser Fonds.
On Oct 5, the headman had also travelled to Long Lama to lodge a police report.
The resistance occurred at the same time where another blockade was set up in the Upper Baram region by the Penan village of Long Ajeng.
Both blockades are in protest of the timber company’s operations and highlighted the lack of community consent.
“We requested the logging company to leave immediately and not to be given any timber certification in our area. We erected a blockade to prevent them from further encroaching into the NCR (Native Customary Rights) land of Long Pakan.
“We are not happy when the company continues to work because the forest will vanish. Forest products are difficult to find such as sago, rattan and medicines. It is also difficult to hunt and the polluted water and soil erosion caused the fish to die,” Pada said in strongly opposing the logging activities in the area.
In late August, some villagers from Long Pakan discovered that the timber company had cut the first trees (109 logs) at Ba Nyepangah. Subsequently, Pada lodged the first police report in Long Lama and the village elders erected a blockade at Ba Nyepangah.
Bruno Manser Fonds alleged that it was also learnt that since Sept 22, the blockade had been dismantled and reinstalled various times. The villagers and the timber company are currently facing a standoff at the blockade site.
It claimed that this is not the first area within the Penan territory where local communities set up blockades to stop the timber company from logging this year.
“Since March, the community of Long Ajeng and their neighbours in the Upper Baram area have been trying to prevent the company from entering their forest through dialogue, letters to the authorities and a police report.
“Nevertheless, the company continued the timber extraction and as a result, the villages set up a blockade in September that brought the logging activities to a standstill.
“Since last year, many Indigenous communities within the timber company’s concessions have complained about the lack of consultation. But the company has rebutted all complaints. Instead of coming to the table for a sincere dialogue, they instead filed a defamation suit against Save Rivers, a Sarawak civil society organisation,” the coalition alleged. — DayakDaily